Internet Marketing for Hotels – Trends to Embrace in 2016
It’s hard to believe we are nearly through the first quarter of 2016, and with a good ten months ahead of us, it’s never too late to getting the ball rolling on proven trends from which any industry can benefit, but especially hotels. Internet marketing for hotels has changed rapidly in the past few years, and will continue to evolve as technologies roll out. Wondering how you can leverage the latest trends from ways in which your brand can benefit? Here is a breakdown.
Hot Trends with Internet Marketing for Hotels
Update Your Website Already
It all starts here… your website. From gathering information about your property, to booking online, your website is the key to success (no matter what is trending). Now is a good time to do a website audit, and here’s how.
- First, visit your website from the perspective of your guest; is the site pleasing to the eye and easy-to-navigate? Is there a dedicated page for all the crucial information (contact, about, location, etc)? Is it secure and device responsive?
- Now, look at your website from a sales perspective; does it include easy-to-find calls-to-action (sign up for our newsletter, grab our deal of the month, etc) and social media links? How about social proof such as testimonials and reviews? Is the load time fast enough?
Remember, you have two seconds to make an impression and entice your potential guest inside your “digital property” – make the most of it!
Content is King (Still)
Yes, content remains king. Why? Because guests will almost always prefer helpful, relevant and compelling content over ads. Content allows you to pull customers to you rather than push your message onto them. Even though the term “content marketing” may be old hat by now, there is a continual shift in maximizing its potential.
So, what will change with content in 2016? Content strategy will mature into a multi-tasking hero. No longer will your blog simply be posted and forgotten about. It can be sliced, diced, scrambled and shared a million different ways. Key concepts of a blog post can be turned into a visual to be shared on Instagram; a hotel manager can do a quick in-house video of the overarching them of the (already posted) monthly specials to be shared on Facebook; the event manager can revamp her core to-do list for weddings into a pdf offer that brides-to-be can download (for their email, of course). And, best of all, sharing platforms are allowing brands to spread these content creations far and wide.
Fact: Inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads. (Hubspot)
With the power of the internet accessible at every angle, customers are becoming more informed all the time. In fact, over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. Plus, nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. Those are some pretty powerful numbers. How can the hospitality industry take reign of reviews to benefit their brand? Through Reviewer Marketing. Harness the power of feedback for increased sales. (There’s technology for that- ask us about it!)
No doubt mobile marketing has been top of mind for the past several years. With more and more folks switching to smart phones, it’s a no brainer to optimize websites to be device friendly. However, going a step beyond, hotels can tap into new technologies to include text message marketing and geo fencing into their internet strategies.
First the basics.
- What is a geofence? A geofence is a virtual barrier. Basically, it can be set up as such that when a mobile device is within the boundaries of the geofence, a text message or email alert is sent. An example would be when a guest checks into your hotel and opts in to be informed on special events and deals while on site, such as happy hour or a flash sale on a spa treatment.
- What is text message marketing (aka SMS marketing)? SMS marketing (short message service marketing) is a technique that uses text-messaging (permission-based, of course) to spread messages. An example of this would be whenever you open up a lodging promotion, you can generate a text to your SMS subscribers informing them of the deal with a link back to the booking page. According to Technipedia, of all the SMS messages sent on a daily basis, 98% are opened, with 83% opened within 3 minutes. Yowza!
Is your hotel on board with mobile “amplified”?
Social Media Trends for 2016
In case you haven’t discovered already, social media marketing is not going anywhere anytime soon. But, in order to stay ahead of the curve and cut through the clutter, proactive social media marketing efforts in 2016 will cover more than the traditional “Big 3 Networks” (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). While it will take a great amount effort by a newcomer to actually surpass Facebook in terms of overall supremacy any time soon, the trend in 2015 was more around growth and action of some of the B-tier social networks. Some of the more obvious newcomers, Pinterest and Instagram, brought themselves and their users into the mainstream with impressive ad offerings and user growth.
Moving forward, smart social media marketing professionals in the hotel industry should start looking at even more obscure networks such as SnapChat, Ello, Medium and Periscope – and even the travel specific Travellers Point and WAYN – to see online brand development goals come into fruition and to place your properties ahead of the pack.
Retention marketing is a method to focus on building up brand loyalty. The goal is to focus on customer retention rather than customer acquisition. It is not as much about the number of individual transactions but the larger idea of continually delighting customers who you have already lured in. When customers trust a brand, they are more likely to recommend it to someone else (83%), and use it frequently (82%).
Retention marketing involves more than one action, rather it requires process and strategy. Think about your customer touch points from start to finish and how they can be improved so your brand is creating raving fans.
Marketing through emails still offers some of the highest ROI of any digital marketing strategy (3800%), and in 2016 it’s HOW you use those precious email addresses that will deliver the magic for your hotel. Fortunately email automation tools are becoming even more useful, offering more robust integration with apps and products. We can expect to be able to send more personalized, targeted and relevant messages to our customers. Think triggered emails based on a user visiting a website page or on a specific date (such as a birthday or anniversary). In 2016, contextual emails rule!
Sales Departments Step Aside
Sales departments have traditionally pounded the pavement (so to speak) in order to drum up business. However, with changes in consumer behavior, the continual developments in technology and proven digital strategies, sales teams should step aside – or rather get in sync with what marketing teams are doing. The way to get sales and marketing in sync all hinges on a strong system of communication and updated processes. Once sales and marketing are effectively communicating about initiatives and customer relationships, it should be as easy as 1, 2, 3, to close a deal.
These are just a few trends to embrace for 2016. It’s exciting to see how internet marketing for hotels will continue to evolve in the coming years. Stay ahead of the curve with a solid content strategy using quality keywords. We can help. Sign up below to order a customized keyword report!
Director of Digital Strategy
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